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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Do credentials matter?

"Cherries and Cups" original oil 6x6"

(For purchase info click here)

Juried shows, awards, initials - do they really matter? I believe they do, but not for the reasons one might think.

About 15 years ago, when I had been painting for 5 years and was beginning to gather some steam, I started applying for signature status in some art organizations and entering juried shows. This was really good practice for wrapping my head around rejection (lots of practice). An interesting beast to wrestle with. It sends one to a few crazy places, one of the most interesting being, "Perhaps I should just pack it in." Fortunately the passion to paint soon dispels that nonsense, but after a while I got tired of licking my wounds and decided these things really didn't matter anyway. Who needs them? I'm selling lots of art, life is good, why bother? For the next 10 years, I didn't. And here's what happened. Sales were great, but my art stopped growing. Oh, it grew inevitably from practice - slow, steady, incremental improvement. But it didn't GROW. I became bored with this 'job' of painting.

About 5 years ago, due to some major shifts in what I wanted for my career, I began pursuing these things again. Here's what happened. My art GREW! In huge leaps and bounds, and continues to. The pursuit of these things is good for your resume, good for collectors to know about, good for your sense of peer validation, but here's why it really matters. It keeps raising your bar higher and higher, it makes you strive with every painting to not just paint, but to be the best painter that you can be. It creates within you a standard of excellence that you think about every time you step up to your easel.

Do I still get rejections? You bet. Do they bother me? For about 2 seconds, and then I get on with my quest to explore all the complexities of this journey to paint well, and that's a job that will never fail to captivate me.


  1. Liz, great post which answers lots of questions I've been asking myself lately. Appreciate this valuable info!

  2. Liz, I've really been enjoying your posts. The small paintings are looking so good, and so much reflect your style.

  3. Good for you to change tack! I think it's important because it's a much less biased eye than our family or friends and most of us spend a lot of hours by ourselves making art.

  4. Yes we do spend a lot of time alone making art Tracey, and that's another thing that changed for me right about the same time. I found a tribe, people to talk art with and do mutual critiques with, friends who are also professional painters. This has expanded my work enormously, probably more than any other thing. Workshops, paint outs, participating in shows with local painting organizations - these are great places to start to make these contacts. They will become invaluable to you.

  5. You make a lot of really good points. It's easy to get discouraged, but important to keep going. Thanks for the post! It's tough to create and grow in a vacuum.

  6. Well said ,Liz. I'm really enjoying your new work!

  7. I am new to the blogging community but wanted to let you know how much I admire you artwork and your beautiful writing skills. Hope it does not have to be a package deal. I love your tip on painting beyond the shapes to soften your edges.

  8. Great strong reflections...another excellent painting!

  9. Lloyd Kiwi GallagherMay 24, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Dear Liz.
    WOW you are amazing of what you have done, and your commitment to
    improve and do a 100 pictures in a 100 days.
    You certainly deserve a Gold Medal in my books.
    Love you
    And keep up the passion